Welcome to the blog tour for Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander! Today is my stop on the tour and I bring you a great guest post from the author all about writing about her favorite character in the book. There is also a fabulous giveaway going on too so be sure to enter that below to be able to win some amazing prizes! Enjoy!
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Contemporary YA
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people...
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world...and happy endings aren't always guaranteed.The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
I’m not sure how long I’ve been back in school. I don’t really do days anymore. Time is measured in pages. I’ve read 3,718 pages since Dad dropped me off on the first day. It’s been 108,023 pages since Charlotte died. I’ve read 150 pages since I stepped on the bus this morning. It’s been ten pages since I thought of Charlotte.
She’s not coming back, and I don’t know what else to do, so I keep turning the pages.
However long I’ve been back at Sandstone High, the advanced literature and composition teacher, Mrs. Jonah, informed me yesterday that I am no longer allowed to “sit like a bump on a log, reading books” in her class. I find this strange, but then, I don’t understand the real world. I’ve given up trying to make any kind of sense of it. Today in class, I am sitting like a bump on a log, staring out the window.
Sandstone is a typical high school, unlike the fancy math and science school on the other side of town that Charlie graduated from last spring. It’s the kind of building that’s been pieced together—add a wing here, convert a gym there, dump mobile units here—throughout the decades as the town’s population grew and it had to be quickly expanded. There’s no one defining style. It’s a mishmash. The kids who go here are also diverse, so it’s not hard for me to fade into the background.
Lit and Comp is a junior course. The guidance counselor signed me up for it at the end of last year. She described it as a lively class full of opportunities for personal and artistic growth. In other words, it’s my worst nightmare. I’ve decided growth is overrated.
Mrs. Jonah’s classroom is long and narrow, with a wall of windows down the side. She’s decorated the wide windowsill with spindly spider plants, stacks of books, empty vintage Coke bottles that catch the sunlight, and a bust of Sir Isaac Newton, which is strange since she’s not a science teacher.
Mrs. Jonah raps on her desk now to get our attention. She stands and brushes invisible lint off her black pencil skirt. Tall and unafraid of wearing high heels, she towers over everyone in the school, even the basketball coach. Her pixie haircut and makeup are always perfect. She’s the most with it human I’ve ever seen.
“Time’s up,” she says. “Please, pass your quizzes forward.”
I’ve been done with my quiz for what would have been about twenty pages, if reading were still allowed in Lit class. I pass my paper to the boy in front of me. He runs his hand through his choppy black hair and smiles. His lips are chapped, and the smiling pulls the raw skin too tight. It makes me wince. I instantly feel bad, because I remember this guy.
Max. He was in Mr. Bunting’s World History class with Charlotte and me last year. He was the only student at Sandstone who spoke directly to me after Charlotte died. He came right up to me in history, cleared his throat so I’d look up from my book and said, “Sorry for your loss.”
I remember I got up and left the room. It was either that or start crying.
He’s still looking at me now. I should say something, something nice, like “Thank you for your condolences.” Instead, I look out the window again.
Max sighs, soft like the riffle of book pages, as he turns around and passes our quizzes forward. I’m used to that sound. It’s the sound of my father when I refuse to put my book down and come join my mother and him. The sound of my mother when she realizes I’ve been listening to the book characters in my head instead of her. Lately, I’m really only safe lost in the pages of a book. Outside, in the real world, it’s like I’m walking around with no skin. Everything hurts.
I asked author Shannon Lee Alexander to pick her favorite character in her novel and talk about why she chose him or her. What was most fun and what most challenging to write about for them, etc... Here is what she had to say.
As a writer, I’m a pantser. I don’t plan my stories before I start. I generally begin knowing who the main characters are, where they are beginning, and a vague idea of where I may end up at the end of the story. Everything else is always a surprise to me as I’m writing.
When I began LIFE AFTER JULIET, I knew the swoony, sweet Max Herrera would be an ally for Becca Hanson. And I knew Darby Jones would be her worst nightmare. What I didn’t know was that just as Becca was going to fall for Max, I was about to fall in love with Darby Jones in a big way.
Darby started out as a caricature—the typical mean girl stock character. But almost immediately, she began to take control of her scenes (in true drama queen style) and direct them in new and amazing directions I hadn’t considered. She diligently corrected all my misperceptions about who she was and what her purpose in the story was to be.
The more I wrote her, the more I loved her. And I wanted readers to get to see the real Darby, behind the Queen of the Drama Club persona she wore so often.
The biggest gift Darby gave me was the understanding that I wasn’t trying to write a love story for Becca, even if she happens to fall for a guy in the course of telling the story. For Becca (and for Darby, too), this story was about finding herself. Darby helped me see that. And then, she helped Becca see it, too.
Darby is never going to be an easy character for anyone to like. She’s direct, unfiltered, and unapologetic. She’s driven and demanding. She’s kind of a pain in the butt, but she’s also loyal and caring and kind to those she loves. You just have to get to know her to see it.
Characters like Darby are my favorite thing about writing. The way they grow and change a story really reflects the way writing can help you grow and change as a person, too. Darby is a reminder that you can’t judge a book by its cover, or a drama queen by her eye rolling either.
Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. She spent most of her time in high school hiding out in the theater with the drammies and techies. Math still makes her break out in a sweat. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.
Giveaway Information: Contest ends July 15th, 2016
Open internationally, but prize packs ship only to US. International winners will receive Amazon gift cards (listed below).*
- Grand prize: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet poison and dagger necklace, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
- 1st Runner Up: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4 oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
- 2nd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
- 3rd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
*All contests are open internationally, but international winners will receive the following:
- Grand prize: $25 Amazon gift card, signed signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
- 1st Runner Up: $20 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
- 2nd runner up: $15 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
- 3rd runner up: $10 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplatea Rafflecopter giveaway